30 Minutes in the Life: August 2021

I feel like I want to say how did we get to August, but truthfully I want to say I survived this awful, stressful year up to August.

It’s been a hard year which really started in November of 2020 when Richard started feeling ill, but it was only in February, at my insistence, that he went to the ER and was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma. I have to be honest that this rocked my world. If I didn’t have to be strong for the kids and for Richard I would have just melted down in a puddle. The day he asked me for his will prior to surgery, sent my BP up over the top. It took me a while to figure out that they wanted his living will. At the same time we found out that Amy was pregnant. In March she was deemed a high risk pregnancy, which just added to the stress of Richard’s diagnosis. In April my beloved Hoo, my rescue Quaker Parakeet died. I was devastated. He kept me in routine and I was able to have such laughter with him in the crazy moments. In May, my brother had an adverse result to some tests he had. He had been my rock in the previous months and it felt like the bottom of my world had just fallen away. Praise God, he was cleared of any further adverse results. Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong my brother’s wife was admitted to hospital with Colon Cancer. Surgery was done and they believe that they managed to get everything but she is now on chemo. Tests will tell her story moving forward. I was almost out of July, and thinking I had survived the month, when I was exposed and tested positive for covid. Ugh so close. August has brought us additional concerns with Richard. He found some lumps at the base of the neck which we think are lymph glands. Ultrasound is inconclusive and so we just wait and see. I don’t want to know what September is going to dish up….. But in October we have some exciting news.

In the midst of all of this drama, there has been an exciting happening and that is the advent of our first grandchild. In July and August, I began prepping for a baby shower. Baby showers these days a very different to baby showers in my days. I remember having a few friends over and my mom made a couple of cakes and some savories and there was chips and dip. This baby shower was a little different.

Amy asked if it could be a more formal event, sit down seating and a theme and games and prizes and such things. She wanted it to be nice. I was extremely grateful to her two friends who were a tremendous help setting up and prepping everything the day before and the morning of the event.

And so I began planning. What does it look like. Pinterest became my friend. Amy is very into nature and animals and so we settled on a succulent theme and I began to design artwork around the theme, and look at colors that worked with nature. She also wanted it to be a couples event.

Fortunately I have table cloths and chair covers from Cameron’s wedding rehearsal, and Amy’s wedding that we had at home. Once again I borrowed tables and chairs, and then settled on green and champagne colored tie backs. On the center of the table, I wanted to keep the decorations low and only have one center bromide that stood higher. I ran a burlap strip down the table, then added moss (from home depot), and pebbles, along with fake air-plants, succulent candles in vases, along with the cutest little takeaway succulents in pots with a “Watch me grow” sign.

In addition I added mini vases tied with string and a tiny daisy flower with baby’s breath. The vases just softened and added color to the tables to match the bromide. Setting were placemats of stiffened burlap, and real plates, and silver wear, along with a real napkin folded to try and resemble a succulent. At the end of that we had table settings for 22 people.

This was a beautiful outside setting, the weather was perfect, but extremely hot, so at the last minute we headed up to their old condo and borrowed the outdoor umbrella’s to create some shade. Fortunately one of the board members was at the baby shower and made that a lot easier to do.

Balloons were tied to the mail box and at the front entrance, and as guests walked inside they were welcomed to the baby shower and handed a mimosa. Since I do not like orange juice, I gave them a choice of orange, peach, or grapefruit. If they did not like that then we also gave them the option of just champagne. To be precautious we had hand sanitizer and masks.

In my days prior to the baby shower, I created a diaper cake with succulents and wild animals, and we decided to have a raffle for anyone who brought an extra bag of diapers. The winning prize was a bottle of wine, an aerator, an opener and some ice cubes.

This is not a great image due to an old phone, but I also created a books for baby section, using a tool box as his book box, and making him some wildlife on trains book ends.

I had various stations situated around the main congregating area, like the baby is brewing. We did the “How big is mommy’s belly”, which her father won when he measured his own. I had built a shadow box using his ultrasound, and a series of wooden balloon shaped cut outs, to create a balloon collage that the guests could write their names on and a onesie that they could write messages. I also set out a bin of diapers for them to write a “late night message”. It was quite fun reading all of them.

The food was all home made and put together in a space of 5 hours. The menu consisted of yoghurt parfaits, veggie & dressing cups, a charcuterie board, a fruit platter, Tostito’s with guacamole and a slice of tomato, quiche, sausage rolls, brie bites, tomato and onion pasteries, meatballs with chilli, chicken and pineapple skewers in a mango sauce, cocktail sausages in maple bacon, and last but not least a variety of burgers.

Dessert was cake, succulent decorated cupcakes (which took me 4 hours to create), the cheese board, macaroons, strawberries in white chocolate, and a fondue. There was a lot of food.

In-between lunch and dessert, we had games – what’s in your phone, baby milestones, baby bingo, and some predictions for when Luka makes his debut. But right now he is a baby in bloom. Added to that were a few more prizes for the winners of the games.

Last but not least, it was present time. The balloon arch was fun blowing up. There had to have been about 50-75 balloons that needed to be blown up. Fortunately I bought hand pumps. The boxes were so cute, and filled with balloons. I added the animals because we are South African and I wanted little Luka to have a connection to his family culture. The crib has a 90 year old history in my husbands family line, and I filled it with all the smaller presents (probably most of which I had had fun buying). I know that by the end of the present opening Amy and Daniel were exhausted, overwhelmed and spoiled. She said there was very little that she needed to buy for the baby.

Putting the baby shower together for them was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun, and it certainly distracted me from the bad news of this year. I am super excited to meet this little man in the October when he makes his debut. It feels like just the other day Richard and I were adding a new generation. Now our new generation is ushering in a newer generation. I can’t wait.

Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life. This is a circle blog. While this is a culmination of more than 30 minutes, I believe these photo’s were taken in about 30 minutes when I realized I had not taken any. It’s a small circle this month. Please follow the link to see what my very talented friend Kim of One Ordinary Life, has to share this month.

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Share Six: December 2020: Story Telling

Oops, this is not my comfort zone. I don’t have littles, I am not quite sure how to adequately embrace the theme {Story Telling}, chosen by Ceri Herd Photography, this month. My story telling will be words as well as images and will be more than 6 images just a heads up. I don’t want to break up this days trip.

In August, when we realized that we would not be doing our European trip, we decided to rent a cabin in the mountains of Georgia. If you have read my blogs before you will remember that I am a bit of a planner. So I did my home work and discovered there were some wine farms near the cabin. I looked a most of them with the idea of going and doing some wine tasting and eating some lunch. Of course, as a photographer, I look at all the images and I eventually landed on a wine farm a lot further away from the cabin than the local farms.

The day we planned to go to the vineyard we had done a hike to Anna Ruby Falls, and then headed to Brasstown Bald. By the time we we ready to travel to the vineyard it really was too late for lunch. Richard wanted to hike the next day, but most of us were all hiked out. I had booked a trout fishing morning for them thinking that it would be something fun. The ladies stayed in bed and the men & I headed out early on the Wednesday morning, with the idea that we would spend a couple of hours fishing and then drive the hour to the wine farm. The men were fishing and I was along to document this momentous moment. More about the fishing in another blog. The fishing was interesting but the scenery and colors of fall were more enjoyable for me.

Finally we were back home, the smell of fish washed away and we are all ready to head out. One of the criteria of the trip for me, was to try and catch some fall colors and to rest after a few days of hiking.

Interestingly we ended up traveling the same route as the previous day for at least half the trip. We headed towards the Lakes area of Macedonia, Hiawassee, and Young Harris.

After turning a number of corners we finally arrived at our destination vineyard – Crane Creek Vineyard. I can certainly say, if you are in the area, make this place a stop on your drive. The vineyard is picturesque, the fall colors were beautiful. I fell in love. Welcome to this beautiful destination.

Aside from the beauty of this vineyard, I wanted a place where we could sit down outside and eat. Our daughter in law is immune compromised and has a number of food allergies. Once I discovered the vineyard and read more about it, I discovered that they had a beautiful restaurant on site. Being South African, I was drawn to the fact that the chef was from Mauritius. Added to that my husbands grandparents emigrated to South Africa from Mauritius.

Kathryn contacted the owners of the restaurant Paris & Company and asked about the menu and whether they would be able to accommodate her requirements. Nina was so encouraging and just asked us to give her a days notice so that she could plan for Kathryn’s needs. We booked a time for lunch and were excited to get there and enjoy the beautiful menu.

We were seated out on the patio, in the corner away from other quests. Nina personally came out and spoke with Kathryn to see what she could eat. We all ordered something different, along with a bottle of white wine named Enotah. The wine is “100% Chardonel (a Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc hybrid). Aged in oak barrels for 10-12 months. Aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, apples and toasty butter.” I got that directly from their website. Credit to Crane Creek Vineyards. The wine was amazing and paired well with our lunch.

I snapped two cellphone pics of the food as I did not want to pull out the big old camera and annoy the rest of the family. The food, in case you were wondering, was excellent. I chose a lobster and crab salad, as seen above, tossed in a tangy sauce, served on a croissant, along with a potato salad side. Daniel, who was seated next to me, chose the Ultimate Philly Cheesesteak with caramelized onions, green peppers and swiss cheese, with a side of fries. There were six of us and I did not take photos of each persons food but it will definitely give you an idea of the options. I definitely recommend having lunch there.

Leaving the restaurant we meandered across the grass admiring the view. Beautiful homes set in the rows of vines. So picturesque in its beauty.

Bursts of color can be found in this scenic view, leaves coat the grass and the smell of fall is a sweet aroma to my senses.

Due to Covid the wine tasting has been shifted outdoors . Beyond the tree below is a patio are where you can sit and taste your wine or you can walk back to the grass area and find a few chairs and relax and enjoy the view. We did do some wine tasting outside overlooking the lake and the vines.

Tranquility is a word I would use to describe the beauty of this scene. Quiet reigns and you can just sit back and enjoy, sipping on your wine.

I had asked prior to traveling if we were able to walk around the wine farm and the answer was yes. So we walked down the sand road towards the lake. Lining the edge of the wines and the road are beautiful rose bushes. Walking down the road we arrived at the lake on our left and looked over a beautiful wedding perfect scene.

In every direction there is a vibrancy fulfilling my desire to see the colors of fall. Contrasting colors, bright colors, muted colors. I decided I love fall colors.

This vineyard was a balm to my soul, color to my imagination, quiet to the noise of life. Time to stop and gather my senses again. And I will add, to rest my feet after days of hiking.

Today I felt like I made a connection with the beauty of nature. I am grateful for the hard work the owners of this beautiful vineyard have put in to making this a place to visit. I would encourage you, if you haven’t been there and you are in the area, add a visit to your bucket list.

Thank you for joining me for this month’s Share Six blog post.  This is a circle blog.  The sneak peaks that are shared are stunning. I can say that because they all come to me prior to the posts going live. The challenges always stretch us just a little bit further. I blog with an incredibly talented group of ladies.  Please take time to visit my friend and very creative artist Lynne from Lynne Grant Photography who always amazes me with her images to see what she has for you this month. To view her  Facebook page click here and her Instagram page here.

Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their page as well.

Come and share your images  Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_storytelling